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Should Computer Languages Count as Foreign Languages?

In the UK, the government is struggling to encourage more students to pick up a foreign language. Across the pond in the United States, however, some legislators are taking a different tack: allowing students to learn a computer language instead of a foreign language.  The states of Texas and Oklahoma were the first to allow students to substitute. Now, New Mexico and Kentucky are jumping on the bandwagon.

Should learning a computer language count as learning a foreign language? Why not encourage students to learn both?  In New Mexico, at least, funding appears to be the main issue.  Senator Jacob Candelaria, the senator who proposed the measure, told the Albuquerque Journal that computer classes would not necessarily replace all foreign language instruction:

“Districts could still teach Latin, French or Spanish, but it provides the incentive for them to incorporate (computer) coding into their curriculum without it being an unfunded mandate.” Read more

UK Government Encourages Foreign Language Learning

Note: K International hold an OJEU compliant contract to supply the UK Government with Language Translation and associated services. For more info click here >> Government Translation Services.

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In an effort to encourage more students to study foreign languages along with other challenging subjects, the UK government is changing how it ranks schools to give more weight to the number of students who do well on foreign language exams at each school.

Encouraging students to learn a new language is definitely a worthy goal. However, the new performance tables have upset many educators, who feel that changing the criteria without any advance notice is unfair.

For example, Christine Blower,  head of the National Union of Teachers, told Reuters:

“You can’t have schools judged against criteria that were not previously in place. This will significantly disadvantage some schools, as they will not have been geared up to doing, for instance, a modern language.”

Read more

Learning Languages

UK Primary Schools Unprepared for Language Classes

Primary schools in England will struggle to provide quality language classes due to a lack of qualified teachers, according to the annual Languages Trends survey. As of September primary schools around the country will be required to teach language classes to seven to 11-year-olds.

“many primary classroom teachers have neither sufficient knowledge of another language nor sufficient confidence in their language skills to be able to teach a language to the level expected in the new national curriculum” Read more